Venice 2012: Risqué 'Spring Breakers,' Historical 'The Lines of Wellington' Top Tuesday's Highlights

3:28 PM PST 09/04/2012 by Eric J. Lyman

As Venice enters the home stretch, it often takes a domestic turn as many international industry figures head to Toronto.

VENICE – The world premiere of Harmony Korine’s adventure comedy Spring Breakers was among the highlights on the Venice Lido Tuesday, as the world’s oldest film festival prepared to pivot toward its domestic side for the home stretch.

Spring Breakers, which tells the story of four hapless girls who decide to rob a fast food shack in order to pay for their spring break plans and end up in jail, was one of the main films identified before the festival began by Italian news program TG 24 to argue that Venice’s lineup this year should be rated “R.”

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Along with Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman, Spring Breakers is also the second film in Venice’s official selection to feature James Franco. Spring Breakers also stars Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Venessa Hudgens, and Heather Morris.

The U.S. distribution rights for the film were sold to Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Tuesday.

Linhas de Wellington (The Lines of Wellington), a historical drama from Valeria Sarmiento, also premiered Tuesday. The film, which recounts the story of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army’s invasion of Portugal, stars John Malkovich as the Duke of Wellington, who commanded the Anglo-Portuguese defense. The star-studded cast also includes Catherine Deneuve, Michel Piccoli, and Isabelle Huppert.

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The film, which is an adaptation of a three-part television miniseries, was origianlly to be directed by Sarmiento's husband, famed Chilean filmmaker Raoul Ruiz, who died last year at the age of 70.

The Hollywood Reporter critic Neil Young called the film "an engaging but old-fashioned dramatication of war in 19th century Portugal."

In its final days each year, the Venice festival usually takes a more local turn as many of the international players head to Canada for the Toronto Film Fetsival, which gets underway Thursday.

That is in evidence with Wednesday’s program, which is highlighted by the screening of Bella Addormentata (Dormant Beauty), a euthanasia drama from Italian director Marco Bellocchio. The film, which is the most high-profile Italian film in Venice’s official selection, is considered a possible candidate for Italy’s foreign language Oscar selection.

But there is one notable exception to the trend: Brian De Palma's Passion will premiere on Friday, the festival’s penultimate day.

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